And I shall take a deep breath in, and breathe out – phew! April has been the most busiest month for me this year. It has been non-stop with creative writing for uni assignments and for my own pleasure of writing.
With my short story The Celestial Goddess of Magic, I had completed multiple scenes that I had submitted as a chapter for an assignment, however I am still debating whether I want this narrative written as a novella or long short story – it’s still up in the air for me until I actually complete my first draft of this whole piece.
In regards to my other assignment, I had been working on my Opening Chapter for my 2nd novel which I was really happy about. I was experimenting with the new form of Transmedia Storytelling – it’s a fascinating way to get readers involved in your story, but also for other ways for a writer to explore different approaches to their writing and getting their characters voices across. It has been tremendously helpful, especially with my Lecturer, Jeni Mawter who is teaching the Writing Young Adult Fiction course I am doing this semester. She has such a wealth of knowledge and information that I am scooping up and learning from.
Now, before I start telling you about the major reason why I haven’t been able to blog as often this month, I shall talk about the great news of one of my short stories being published in Grapeshot, which is a student publication magazine of Macquarie University. I submitted my story, That Dear Cockerel at the beginning of this month for their Comedy Issue coming out soon in the next 2 weeks. The full version of the story will be on their website http://grapeshotmq.com.au/ and the first 1,000 words will be published in the hard copy edition which is distributed throughout the university. I always used to grab the magazine on my way home from uni and read it on the one hour train ride home. I loved reading all the material in the magazine, especially the creative writing featured, and used to think back then, as an undergraduate student, I would love to have my work published in the magazine, at least once in my life, to contribute something back to the uni. Anyways, more on this publication when it comes out.
I have also recently created a Twitter account and you can follow me @CCatacouzinos https://twitter.com/CCatacouzinos. It is such a great source and has a wealth of information to keep up to date with the book industry, entering into short story competitions and publications, meeting other writers, and just a great place to be in-the-know.
Finally, the main reason why I haven’t been blogging. I had dubbed this year and the next, following with my Masters degree as being, The Year of the Writer – and boy, have I been living up to that title. I had thought this year I would only be working on my 2nd novel, and getting its first draft completed by the end of the year, and at the moment, it has been put on hold. I have been focusing on my 1st novel which I had originally written all the way back in Year 11, in 2008. I had written it for a Novella competition that was 25,000 words long. I was just happy to enter and actually complete a long piece of narrative fiction. Slowly, over the years, I knew the story was bigger than being in the Novella format. I gradually starting writing extra scenes, developing the plot, story and characters. Then, this year, towards the beginning of the month, I have been working my butt off to get it to a publishable standard to submit to a publishing company. I have been through so many redrafts of this novel, I have lost count.
There are 3 Editing stages that I have been processing through:
1) Structural Editing – this one has been a very long process of redraft after redraft
- Focusing on Character development
- Fix Pacing
- Extending metaphors
- Tightening your theme
- Structuring scenes
2) Copy Editing
- Looking for words repeated in a sentence
- Improving formatting
- Trying to be clear, concise, correct, comprehensible, and consistent
3) Proof Reading
- Looking for spelling, grammar, punctuation
- Styling issues
- Just a note – I hadn’t realised how much I loved the semicolons ;;;;
I finally went back to the heart of the story and what I wanted it to express. The original first draft has been written in 1st person from the main character, Jocelyn. However, I always knew there was more to the story than just focusing on her as a focaliser. This month, I have been exploring her brother as another focaliser, giving him, as the writer, more importance in the story in 3rd person – his chapters are written as extracts. But I have also written childhood extracts, of the brother and sister’s past, which tightens the theme and message of the story. Every night I have been writing, editing, redrafting, and reading over and over again, giving myself 3-5 hrs to work on this novel.
I have my fingers crossed, but I know aspiring writers have their manuscripts rejected countless times, which I am highly aware of, and know it is part of the endless process of being a writer. All I can say is bring on the rejections – if that is a nice way to put it. And all I can do is hope, but the one thing I am very pleased about, that if the novel does not get published by a main publishing company, I am able to self publish. But more importantly, after 5 years of having this story and characters in my mind, all the way back in Year 11 since its birth, I am very proud of myself that I have the story to where it is at, and that it is completed to a publishable standard I am very satisfied with. Even though, truth be told, at the end of the day, even when writers do get their novels published, it is still never perfect in our eyes; but it is part of the journey of being a writer – whether published or not.